Wednesday 22 September 2021

Universities aim to operate normally from coming academic year


Dutch universities aim to open in the coming academic year, without social distancing and preferably without compulsory testing, current affairs show Nieuwsuur has reported.

Despite the surge in Delta variant infections, particularly among young people, universities do not plan to operate under restrictions come the autumn, Pieter Duisenberg, head of the Dutch universities association VSNU said.

‘That has to be top of the list of priorities,’ he said. ‘And we want to work out how we can make this happen.’

Ministers had asked universities to draw up two different timetables for September, one with social distancing and one without. A month ago, universities indicated that only one scenario – being fully open –  is relevant, and the surge in Delta variant cases has not changed that, Nieuwsuur said.

While Eindhoven University of Technology has worked out the likely impact of different scenarios, most have not done so because of the pressure on staff.

‘What the government wants is not possible,’ a spokesman from Tilburg University said.

Compulsory testing, which the government may require from September, would be an enormous logistical challenge, Duisenberg told the programme.

‘We are not a festival location with one entrance,’ he said. ‘Dutch campuses are made up of numerous buildings, and in some cases are scattered throughout cities.’

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